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Kean-Sponsored Bill Creating Blue Ribbon Commission
on Alimony Law Passes Committee
Legislation (AJR-32) sponsored by Assemblyman Sean Kean, R-Monmouth and Ocean, that would create an 11-member Blue Ribbon Commission to review New Jersey’s alimony law and propose avenues of reform, was approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Monday. Kean sponsored a similar bill in the previous legislation session that received unanimous approval in the Assembly, but received no action in the Senate.
Kean, a practicing attorney, has previously sponsored related legislation that provided for modification of child support and certain alimony payments due to a change in personal circumstances. He has also sponsored a bill that examines how current alimony law is structured and that eliminates permanent alimony awards. Guidelines for the term of limited duration alimony based on the length of the marriage would be established.
“Current alimony laws are antiquated and not reflective of the way society has changed over the years,” said Kean. “Establishing a commission that is composed of various stakeholders is a common sense approach to reforming an outdated system. While there are guidelines for courts to consider in determining alimony, there is not a specific formula for a family court to use in its calculation. Alimony should help a person as they transition to self-sustaining employment. It should not be a lifetime financial obligation on the individual making payments.
“Issues such as changes in lifestyle, earning power and employment status are factors that need to be examined and updated when determining if, and how much a settlement should be,” explained Kean. “There are too many stories of spouses who have been financially crippled or jailed because their circumstances have changed. We have talked about this issue for several years and I believe the time has come to take action. The law needs to be brought up to date.”
Within 12 months of organizing, the commission would issue a report to the governor and Legislature detailing its findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation. The Blue Ribbon Commission will review the scope of state alimony laws as compared with those in other states, trends in alimony awards, and whether current economic conditions have affected trends in state alimony awards.
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